Palestinian truce violators held

Palestinian security forces have arrested five fighters on charges of firing mortar bombs against Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip even as Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas continued to meet resistance leaders to persuade them to join the ongoing political process.

    Palestinian Authority determined
    to keep its side of the bargain

    A spokesman for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an alliance of resistance  groups, said on Friday that Palestinian police arrested two members in Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday and three leaders on Thursday afternoon in Gaza City.


    A Palestinian security official confirmed the arrests saying the Palestinian Authority was committed to punishing violators of a ceasefire accepted by the leadership of the three most important Palestinian resistance groups.


    The PRC has not yet agreed on the truce.


    The interim truce was reached on the condition the Israeli army halt attacks on West Bank and Gaza strip, stop assassinations and house demolitions and release all Palestinian prisoners.


    Abbas' dialogue


    Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas held talks with Islamic Jihad leaders on Friday night, a day after meeting Hamas leaders.


    "The meeting was positive and serious and we insisted on the liberation of Palestinian prisoners from the occupier's jails, which is a priority for the Palestinians," Mohammad al-Hindi, Islamic Jihad official said.


    Shanab(L) and Zahar: Abbas's
    invitation adds new dimension

    Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar welcomed a statement by Abbas in which he said Israel must "free Palestinian prisoners and withdraw its forces not only from Gaza, but from all Palestinian territory reoccupied" since the Intifada began in September 2000.


    An official Palestinian source said the aim of Abbas' meetings was to "move forward the inter-Palestinian dialogue and strengthen the truce".


    Earlier, Palestinian Culture Minister Ziad Abu Amr, who is Abbas' liaison to Hamas, said the meeting would discuss "political participation", and he hinted the door was open for the resistance groups to join the ongoing political process.


    When asked whether Hamas would join the Palestinian government, Abu Amr said, "We leave that to Hamas to decide."


    "We will ask Hamas to take part in the Palestine Liberation Organisation and there is nothing preventing them from participating in all Palestinian institutions," he added.


    Candid admission


    Israeli army chief of staff Moshe Yaalon on Friday admitted to a number of bad calls during the Intifada. 


    In an interview to the Yediot Aharonot newspaper in Jerusalem, he said the Israeli army made a number of mistakes like the recent strike on the car of Hamas leader Yasser Taha, "not knowing that his wife and daughter were with him".


    Israeli forces have often disregarded in the  past consideration of civilian casualties in the planning of their attacks.


    The chief of staff said he was also against the siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.   


    A poll published on Friday in the newspaper found 73 percent of Israelis did not consider the Jewish state victorious in the Intifada, which has cost more than 3,370 lives.


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